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Use it or lose it?

Do you have members of staff who have a lot of unused holiday entitlement as the end of the holiday year is approaching?

The most common holiday years are from 1st January to 31st December or 1st April to 31st March. As such, now is a good time to review your staff’s annual leave allowance to ensure that members of staff take their annual leave entitlement before the end of the leave year.

What does the law say?

All members of staff are entitled to a statutory allowance of 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year which equates to 28 days for a member of staff who works five days per week and is pro-rated for part-time employees. If a member of staff does not take their statutory annual leave allowance before the end of the leave year, they may lose their right to take the holiday and they will not be entitled to a payment in lieu of such holidays (except in certain circumstances which are not covered by this article). You may, however, have a policy which allows employees to carry over any holidays above the statutory minimum.

Whilst a member of staff will lose their statutory holiday entitlement if they do not use it, the employer should be seen to be encouraging staff to use their holiday entitlement throughout the leave year. As such, if your staff have unused entitlement, you should encourage them to book their holidays as soon as possible to prevent a flurry of requests close to the Christmas break.

Employers do have the right to refuse a holiday request if it cannot be accommodated, however, we would encourage employers to be flexible and allow employees to book their unused holiday entitlement before the end of the leave year as all members of staff have a right to take their statutory entitlement during the leave year.

If you have any particular members of staff who tend not to take their holiday entitlement during the leave year, you can require them to take a period of leave. If you wish for employees to take a period of leave, you must provide them with twice the amount of notice as the leave you require them to take, for example, if you require an employee to take five days leave, you should give them 10 days’ notice of such leave. It is important to note that this method should not be used to run down the members of staff’s holiday entitlement but can be used if you require the individual to take a period of leave.

Staff wellbeing

Going forwards you should remember to act early and ensure that you encourage staff to take regular breaks from work by utilising their paid annual leave entitlement. Regular breaks from work will allow staff to rest and recharge which should prevent burn-out. You should review annual leave allowances on a regular basis and if a member of staff has worked for a long period without a break, you should encourage them to book some leave.

It is also important that managers within the business set the right example by taking their holiday entitlement at regular intervals during the leave year. Failure to do so, might result in a culture whereby employees are reluctant to take their annual leave allowance which has negative implications for the workforce. If members of staff do not use their annual leave entitlement, they are less likely to be productive at work and are more likely to take periods sickness absence due to burn-out and/stress.

 If you do have members of staff who have a lot of unused holiday entitlement and you need advice as to what your options are, one of our advisers would be happy to discuss this with you.